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Latest update : 2010-03-22

European foreign ministers on Monday demanded an "end" to Iranian state censorship, warning they are ready to act on the "unacceptable" jamming of satellite broadcasts and Internet controls.

REUTERS - European Union foreign ministers urged Iran on Monday to stop jamming European satellite transmissions and said they were prepared to take action to end the interference.

Iranian authorities have been jamming foreign satellite broadcasts into their territory since late last year, affecting broadcasters such as the BBC and Deutsche Welle. Access to the Internet for Iranian citizens has also been interrupted.

"The European Union expresses its grave concern over measures taken by the Iranian authorities to prevent its citizens from freely communicating and receiving information through TV, radio satellite broadcasting and the Internet," ministers said in a statement adopted at a meeting in Brussels.

"The EU is determined to pursue these issues and to act with a view to put an end to this unacceptable situation."

The ministers said they were determined to ensure Iran lived up to its commitments to the International Telecommunications Union.

Nuclear research

It is not clear what measures the EU could take, but diplomats have indicated it could involve blocking European manufacturers' export to Iran of equipment that makes it possible to intercept email and mobile phone conversations.

The French newspaper Le Figaro said last week that could involve equipment made by companies such as Siemens and Nokia.

It could also involve putting limitations on Iran's broadcasting of satellite programming into Europe.

EU diplomats said the move should be seen in the context of keeping pressure on Iran over the freedom of its citizens and its uranium enrichment programme, on which the United States is leading efforts to impose tighter U.N. Nations sanctions.

Iran denies accusations that it is developing atomic weapons under its nuclear programme.

Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said the EU remained committed to securing a United Nations Security Council resolution backing another round of sanctions on Tehran.

If that was not possible, he said, the EU should be prepared to push ahead with unilateral sanctions. They are expected to target Iranian banks and insurance companies, as well as senior members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

"Time is running out with Iran and time is running out really fast," Stubb told reporters.

"We should now work on real sanctions through the Security Council. Failing that, we should move to unilateral EU sanctions. I think everyone is fed up with the Iranian government and the way in which they are conducting these negotiations."


Date created : 2010-03-22

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